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MSHA News Release: [03/15/2006]
Contact: Dirk Fillpot          Amy Louviere
Phone:    (202) 693-9406   (202) 693-9423
Release Number 06-489-NAT

MSHA Proposes Fines of $139,300 against Kentucky Operator after Mine Ignition

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) today announced proposed fines of $139,300 against a Kentucky mine operator for safety violations contributing to a methane ignition at J&R Coal Inc.'s No. 7 mine in Letcher County, Ky., Sept. 12, 2005. One miner suffered serious injuries in the ignition which occurred as he was drilling a borehole.

"The safety and health of miners must be protected every day. The failure of any mine operator to provide safe working conditions carries a high risk for their miners and will not be tolerated," said David G. Dye, MSHA's acting administrator. "MSHA will assess strong penalties, as in this case, when miners suffer injuries because the operator failed to provide safe working conditions."

MSHA found that the accident occurred as a result of the operator's high negligence. The fines MSHA has proposed for safety violations contributing to this accident are as follows: MSHA can assess fines ranging from $60 to $60,000 per violation depending on the nature of the violation, level of negligence and several legal factors.

J&R Coal has 30 days to appeal the proposed fines.

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